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Living in Society

Business as Usual

Cottage Reserve from Lake Macbride Beach

In a first for this blog I’m publishing a post by another author. I met Kim Painter during her election campaign for Johnson County Recorder in 1998. She continues to serve as recorder. I have the Painter yard sign I put up back then but don’t use it any longer because she has run unopposed for reelection. Readers may recall I frequently write about Big Grove Township. The Cottage Reserve, the subject of this article, is located in our township.This article first appeared in The Prairie Progressive in print edition. It is reprinted here with permission of the author.

Business as Usual by Kim Painter

Once in a great while, though you think you know what your job is and what it means, the earth of the greater wide world beyond will shift, sending you off-balance in a signal moment of realization. Suddenly the job is not what you thought, but rather all that and much more. For me, it’s happened a few times. Once, when same-sex marriage went from being a contentious back-room LGBT community issue to a national, front-burner fastball coming hard across the plate. Suddenly the media spotlight was intense, emotions ran high, and I was operating at a whole different level than on a day-to-day basis. Day-to-day kept coming to be sure, but so did this other social and civil rights issue with a life and velocity all its own.

It happened more recently when a gentleman wrote to me asking for some assistance with a research project. The man was F. Wendell Miller Professor of History at the University of Iowa, Colin Gordon. He wanted all our deed document images from 1900-1950. It was a new kind of request, for which there was no current template.

He explained that he hoped to get the digitized images into a file to run through optical character recognition (OCR) software. He and his class would then scan for phrases like “the Caucasian race” to locate what we now call ‘racially restrictive covenants.’ Back then, they were called business as usual. I was hooked on the idea, and proceeded to work with our software vendor and county IT staff to load the entire 50 years of deed documents into a file for him. It was a privilege to play a small role, and it is a marvel that today, all documents of this sort in Johnson County and Iowa City are online and mapped. The work is found here: https://dsps.lib.uiowa.edu/mappingsegregationia/.

As I began this article I was struck to recall a third occupational epiphany, a personal one. Some 15 years ago, I was printing off some covenants and restrictions for a customer with questions about a potential property boundary dispute. The situation was unfolding out around Lake Macbride, at what is known as the Cottage Reserve. My eyes stopped on a page, widening considerably, as I slowly comprehended in full the following verbiage:

(6) The said Cottage Reserve area is hereby platted for the sole use and benefit of the Caucasian Race, and no lot or parcel of ground shall be sold, owned, used, or occupied by the people of any other race except when used in the capacity of servant or helper.

Please note the awful and purposeful use of the word “used,” as in “used in the capacity of servant or helper.” There’s no mistaking that meaning. People of color are able to occupy space on this property only if being used… by white people.

As if the above weren’t clear enough, consider the fast-following item (7). It prohibits the ‘keeping or maintaining of hogs, cattle, horses or sheep.’ So in near proximity to reserving the Reserve for the sole benefit and use of the Caucasian race, people of color are categorized alongside hogs, cattle, horses, or sheep.

Again, there is no mistaking the meaning. This is what we thought at the time. This is what we ordained and enforced in legal documents. It is a mark of racism’s insidiousness that such documents were so
often mundane in one paragraph — stipulating maximum heights of garages or number and kind of outbuildings, delineating collective
use of shared roads or wells—only to pivot in the very next to equating entire swaths of humanity to livestock, allowing their presence only if white owners were using them.

Often, when the topic of reparations is raised, one observes the heads of certain kinds of white people exploding, if quietly. People of that sort might seek enlightenment in these covenants and restrictions, which were stipulated in property transactions from the early 1900s until outlawed in 1948. They were of like kind across the nation.

Consider the financial implications of the sheer volume of parcels
restricted in this manner. Tote up the generational losses of wealth caused by the absence of just one home and its plot of land from one family. Have you ever borrowed against your home and land? Think of all those who help kids through college by doing that very thing, and how many people of color had no means to do so. How many lost educations, how much lost income, what final tally of all the wealth lost forever to families over time? It is breathtaking to contemplate. And it all starts on pieces of paper, the day-today documents that come through an office as people buy and sell homes and property. It is that simple, and that monumental. In way, it mirrors racism itself.

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Living in Society

Work Ahead

Burn pile, Sept. 18, 2020.

On the driveway, under starlight, I remembered Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

It will be a busy fall Saturday.

For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began with the governor’s March 9 proclamation there is a can and bottle drive at the high school. We don’t drink many beverages that come in cans yet I have six cases of glass bottles to recycle. I don’t know which charity gets the deposit refund although one person organizing the drive is a member of the school board.

While in town I plan to deliver seven sets of political yard signs. My supply of most signs is close to depleted. We are supposed to get more from the Biden-Harris campaign this month.

Yesterday we re-submitted requests for absentee ballots. A judge ruled our first requests, and those of thousands of others, were invalid because of a paperwork issue. Make no mistake. We will vote.

I expect politics to dominate our daily lives until the election results are known. The Commonwealth of Virginia began early voting on Friday. The line lasted for hours and is a harbinger of what’s to come. Turnout is expected to be higher than normal for a presidential election.

These are not normal times.

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Living in Society

Derecho Clean Up Persists

Turn around on the Lake Macbride State Park trail.

Tuesday morning I cut the fallen locust tree trunk into segments and stacked them along with other firewood produced after the derecho.

It will take several more shifts to cut and sort the remaining damaged tree branches. One of the oak trees needs removal once there is room for it to fall. After that I can get the garden ready for winter, beginning with garlic planting in a couple of weeks.

The call of politics dominates my awareness. I spend time each day improving our chances in the Nov. 3 election. I’ll be spending more time. The stakes in this election are too high to sit on the sidelines.

I’ve learned to take care of myself in times of stress. That’s something we all can and should be doing. As the sun rises it’s difficult to see what today will bring. We must be active agents, not only in our own lives but in our lives in society regardless what light shines on us.

Voting begins on Oct. 5, 19 days from now. One can feel the surge of Americans moving toward election day. Part of it we can’t influence. Part of it we can and that’s where I’ll spend my daily political time. I hope readers will join me by making sure close friends and relatives have a plan to vote.

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Living in Society

Eroding Liberal Centers

Tomatillo casserole with potato, onion, tomatoes, garlic and basil.

Johnson County, Iowa, where I live, is distinctively Democratic. The Republican Iowa legislature doesn’t much care for our deviance from their plans.

In 2010 we were the only county in the state to vote for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Roxanne Conlin. In 2014, Johnson County stood alone in voting for Jack Hatch as governor. “We are the most Democratic county in the statewide races by a very consistent margin,” election official and long-time blogger John Deeth wrote.

Said margin doesn’t mean beans in the scope of statewide elections. If one subtracts Johnson County from statewide and presidential results since 2000 the political outcome and the winners would have remained the same.

Let’s be clear, my political precinct voted for Donald Trump by a substantial margin, as did several others. When I write Johnson County is liberal I’m referring to the urban centers comprised of Iowa City, Coralville, and to a lesser extent, North Liberty. Rural areas near Lone Tree, Tiffin and Solon are more like the rest of the state than the liberal metropolis.

Republicans have noticed and are taking aim.

The county would ban concentrated animal feeding operations if we could. There are votes on the board of supervisors to do so. Managing CAFOs was one of the first areas of the law where the legislature preempted local control, saying hog and cattle lots would be managed from Des Moines.

The Johnson County supervisors raised the county minimum wage. Not every municipality in the county went along with the change. Some other counties also raised the minimum wage. The state legislature preempted local control over minimum wage, nullifying Johnson County’s ordinance.

Protesters in Iowa City have long sought to shut down Interstate 80 as a way to stop business as usual and gain attention for their causes. I participated in one such interstate shutdown in 1971. Republicans increased the penalties for this infraction, although the Iowa Highway Patrol, which is responsible for the interstate, hasn’t been able to prevent protesters from attempting to close it. Protesters closing the interstate highway remains a sore spot for Republicans.

There was talk in the legislature of penalizing so-called “Sanctuary Cities.” I worked with a local group of faith and labor leaders to get the Iowa City Council to declare the county seat a Sanctuary City. They declined to do so because of the stigma attached to the appellation. That hasn’t stopped Republicans from calling our county a Sanctuary County, and our cities Sanctuary Cities.

Our county favors reasonable gun control. No one wants to take guns away from everyone. Most of us would ban the AR-15 and other assault and military-style weapons, and better control the way in which sellers at gun shows operate. The Iowa legislature, especially under House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl, will have none of it.

The effect of constant Republican efforts to erode what makes Johnson County a liberal center is not without its effects. The reaction to Republican preemption in governance has been to make us more liberal. At the same time our liberal nature is isolating us within the state.

Republicans keep after us, including attacks on the keystone of our local economy, the University of Iowa. Through decreased funding, and installation by the board of regents of President J. Bruce Herrald, a man without substantial academic credentials, they erode what’s best about the university and as a byproduct, our economic life.

Iowa City is also hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The state would not allow a mask wearing mandate and the city and county implemented one anyway. I was in the county seat yesterday and the percentage of mask-wearing people was about 50 percent. Enforcement is close to zero. It’s no wonder there is uncontrolled spread of the virus in the county.

If the Trump administration ever finishes the U.S. Census count, there will be political redistricting for the 2022 election. Iowa expects to keep its four congressional seats. I expect Johnson County will gain at least one full time state legislator and we will elect a Democrat in that district.

It seems possible to regain control of the Iowa House of Representatives this election cycle and we are working toward that end. People say it’s possible to flip the Iowa Senate as well, but I doubt it. The Republican Party of Iowa is in full campaign mode, defending every seat where a Republican is running. Even former governor Terry Branstad is returning to the state to help with the campaign, announcing yesterday he is leaving his post as U.S. Ambassador to China. If anything, the political landscape will result in Democrats becoming even more concentrated geographically and Republicans harder to beat.

To some extent Johnson County Democrats painted a target on their back by pursuing liberal policies. That leads me to say while Republicans take aim at us liberals, I hope the rest of Iowa Democrats are using the diversion to gather strength and rebuild Iowa as a progressive state. We should be a progressive state and the only way we will return to our roots is by developing a statewide Democratic footprint. I’ve been around long enough to believe that’s possible.

Republican attacks on our county are irritating yet tolerable. They are not going to end soon and hopefully will provide cover for our Democratic friends and allies throughout the state. The Nov. 3 general election will be a bellwether to show us which way the state is going.

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Living in Society

Turn to Autumn

Rural Polling Place

It feels like summer is turning to fall as the general election approaches. It’s the final stretch.

Whether disinformation and obfuscation combined with intentional confusion regarding absentee ballots will be a winning strategy for the president’s re-election remains to be seen. Think about that sentence. What the heck kind of politics is that?

Even with Russian operatives echoing the president’s talking points (or is he parroting them?) the people with whom I discussed the election this weekend feel we have to do something about this president. Even lifelong Republicans feel Donald Trump should be voted out of office and plan to vote for Joe Biden as president.

Perhaps some in the United States support this approach. I believe a majority do not and will show up on election day.

There are some, myself included, who believe where there is evidence Trump should be prosecuted, stand trial, and if found guilty, imprisoned. It’s certain if Joe Biden wins the Nov. 3 election he won’t pardon the then former president after Jan. 20, 2021.

I reviewed our budget and made some political donations yesterday. I will also be spending part of each day working on electing Democrats. On the Labor Day holiday there are no good excuses to hold back. It’s all hands on deck!

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Living in Society

Is Rural Iowa Different?

Saint John Lutheran Church, Ely, Iowa.

A lot is being made about the differences between voters who live in rural parts of the state compared to those who live in our cities and urban areas.

It’s a false distinction. The same social, economic and political forces are at work no matter where one lives. None of it favors regular people like us.

Why does everything cost more? Why do we have to drive so far for health care? Why is our broadband inconsistent at best if we have it? Why can’t farmers sell milk for at least the cost of production? Why are there patents on seeds? Why does new farm equipment cost so much? Many questions, few answers.

Why do more than half of working people in predominantly rural counties work in another county? The answer to this is easy. Farming does not pay unless one is a big corporation. Someone in most farm families has to work outside the farm to make ends meet and such jobs are mostly urban.

When people say of politicians, “We need someone who understands the rural areas,” it is true. It is also code for something: hard work, poverty, a lack of economic justice, and a type of Christian religious faith. For the most part it is about being a Caucasian farmer.

Of recent writers, Sarah Smarsh came closest to capturing what being rural means in her book Heartland: Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth. The book resonated so closely with how I grew up yet I lived in Iowa’s third largest city. There are differences between the urban county where I grew up and the rural county I know best (Cedar County). Those differences are not significant. Try telling that to someone who lives in a rural area and you’ll find self-righteousness and resentment.

I won’t resolve this false dichotomy. Just as Jack Kerouac’s more conventional first book, The Town and the City gave way to the “spontaneous prose” of On the Road, it is difficult to focus on it for long when so much more about society is engaging.

Suffice it the assertion of ruralness isn’t about being rural. It’s about having dignity, justice and equal treatment under the law. It’s about a return for the hard labor so many farmers invest as part of their lives. At some point labor should be rewarded for its sacrifices instead of return on equity going to the richest people and corporations like Monsanto, Cargill, John Deere, DuPont and Archer Daniels Midland.

Iowa’s well-developed road system is partly to blame for the rural-urban divide. Because of inexpensive gasoline it is easy to drive to a metropolis when shopping for food, building products, household goods and clothing. When there are no rural jobs, a commute of less than an hour might produce income far above what farm earnings can be. Americans, rural or urban, are at a distance from producing their own food, shelter and clothing. Let’s face it. Who wants to live like Old Order Amish? I’ve met enough young people trying to escape that life to say not many. Yet we still see horse drawn carriages using Iowa’s rural road systems.

Use of the rural trope drives me a bit crazy. Not crazy enough to call the suicide hotline, yet enough to be a catalyst. The thing about catalysts is they can get us to where we should be going faster, the way iron is a catalyst for making ammonia. If people who live in rural areas want to get ahead, they need to steel themselves against language that would divide them from the rest of us. That includes their own language. We are stronger together and fabricating a rural-urban divide is counterproductive. That is, if we want society to advance toward something positive.

~ A version of this post appeared in the Sept. 13, 2020 edition of the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

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Reviews

Book Review: The Hidden History of Monopolies

In The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream, Thom Hartmann takes the reader from the founders’ fight against the monopoly of the British East India Company to the borking of the country by President Donald J. Trump.

Like his other Hidden History books, this one is a quick but important read for people who want or need to review the history and origins of today’s concerted, well-organized campaign by corporations to control commerce, government, and thereby our lives.

“Today, giant corporatism — the commercialization of just about everything at the expense of our civilization’s civic, spiritual, health, and safety values, and other conditions needed for the well-being of future generations confronting poverty, addressing planetary climate crises, and averting nuclear war — is crushing our democracy,” Ralph Nader wrote in the book’s forward. “It is corrupting our elections, and astonishingly enough, controlling the vast commons — public lands; public airwaves; vast pension and mutual funds; and industry-creating, government-funded research and development — owned by the American people.”

Thom Hartmann

We’ve heard the phrase “taxation without representation” as it pertains to the founding of the United States. Hartmann turns this around to what was really at stake: a monopoly on tea and other products sanctioned by the British government. It was concern with monopolies, the British East India Company specifically, not taxation that caused the Boston Tea Party. Founder Thomas Jefferson had monopolies on his mind even after the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1789 according to Hartmann.

Nontheless, monopolistic practices grew during the 19th Century with the rise of industrialization. In his book The Robber Barons: The Classic Account of the Influential Capitalists Who Transformed America’s Future, Matthew Josephson described the rise of men like John D. Rockefeller, J. Pierpont Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie and others who pioneered vertical integration of companies, a form of monopoly. Their actions led to significant control over oil, railroads, steel making, coal mining, banking and other industries during the Gilded Age.

Beginning in 1887 with the Interstate Commerce Act, the U.S. Government began to regulate big business. It was followed by the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, and the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914. If the founders opposed monopolies and they formed anyway, it was the role of government to regulate them. Hartmann well-describes this history.

It was president Ronald Reagan, under the guidance of Robert Bork and the Chicago School economists, who began de-fanging antitrust regulations.

Many of us are familiar with the July 1, 1987 nomination of Robert Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court and how Senator Ted Kennedy rose in the well of the U.S. Senate to oppose the nomination within 45 minutes of its being made. Previously, along with Milton Friedman, Bork pioneered the phrase, “consumer welfare.” It changed everything.

“In essence, (Bork) argued, it didn’t matter where a product was produced or sold, or by whom,” Hartmann wrote. “All that mattered was the price the consumer paid. As long as that price was low, all was good with the world.” The corollary was that business profitability was another measure of antitrust. Since Reagan the latter gained preeminence. This is referred to as the borking of America.

By the end of the book I became highly agitated and outraged that our government has become an instrument of corporations intent on shaking down the American people, giving any return on capital to a group of about 100 billionaires as Hartmann describes.

The Hidden History of Monopolies is written in classic Hartmann style and can be read over a weekend. If readers are concerned about banking abuses, dairy farmer bankruptcies, insulin price fixing, the cost of internet and telephone service, big agriculture, and more, Hartmann traces their roots to giant corporations and a systemic borking of America that deregulated business and freed corporations from constraints.

Highly recommend.

Don’t have time to read the book? Here’s a fifteen minute interview of Hartmann by David Pakman that covers some of it.

~ Written for and first published on Blog for Iowa.

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Living in Society

Joe Biden’s Inclusive Tent

Turn around point near Seven Sisters Road.

I got my interest in politics from my late father. He canvassed our Davenport neighborhood for John F. Kennedy. Kennedy lost Iowa yet won the general election.

My first campaign was for Lyndon Johnson when I was 12. I delivered newspapers after school and one Saturday after paying my bill at the newspaper office I volunteered for the Democrats stuffing envelopes. They gave me a campaign button for my time. When Johnson won in the historic landslide I figured Democrats would win every future election like that.

I’m no longer 12.

In 2020 I’m voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominees for president and vice president. Prominent national Republicans announced they are planning to vote for Biden-Harris too. I have little idea who will win the election in Iowa or nationwide. To an extent what matters more than the Nov. 3 vote is what we as a nation will do about it.

Presently people can’t agree what our most pressing problems are. If we can’t agree on that, we will never solve any of them. Some days it seems difficult to have a reasonable discussion about things that matter in this country. Nevertheless, we must persist.

If people were more like we are in the Solon area we’d have a better chance at solving problems. I look back on my time on the Solon Senior Advocates board and believe we got good things done. It didn’t have a thing to do with our politics. As a society we need more of that.

I hope readers will vote on or before Nov. 3. Biden is building an inclusive tent where all are welcome. I invite you to join us. We are stronger together as a society when we participate in our democracy, regardless of for whom we vote.

~ Published in the Sept. 3, 2020 edition of the Solon Economist.

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Living in Society

Revisiting the Yang Gang

Turn around point on the state park trail.

When Andrew Yang visited Iowa during the run up to the 2020 Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses he talked about Universal Basic Income and a Freedom Dividend. I thought he must be on crack.

What other politician would go for free money? Yang anticipated my response.

“You may be thinking, This will never happen,” he wrote in his campaign book The War on Normal People: The Truth about America’s Disappearing Jobs and why Universal Basic Income is our Future. “And if it did, wouldn’t it cause runaway inflation? Enable generations of wastrels?”

“In a future without jobs, people will need to be able to provide for themselves and their basic needs,” Yang wrote. “Eventually, the government will need to intervene in order to prevent widespread squalor, despair, and violence. The sooner the government acts, the more high-functioning our society will be.”

Along came the coronavirus.

The coronavirus pandemic brings into focus what scientists and others have been pointing out for a while: humanity is due for a new way of life. Any job or profession that interacts directly with people was devastated by the economic downturn as the virus spread throughout the world. People in the arts were hit particularly hard: live theatrical performers, dancers, musicians, amusement park operators, and people who support the arts were suddenly without work. Large corporations were hit as people used less shampoo and deodorant, less gasoline and diesel fuel, and reduced restaurant meals dramatically. When we add the impact of technology, automation and robotics to the mix, the number of jobs is expected to contract as global population increases. It seems unlikely these kinds of jobs will return to the way they were prior to the pandemic.

Much has been written about the global explosion of population and its consequences. This from Wikipedia is typical:

“The United Nations Population Division expects world population, currently at 7.8 billion, to level out at or soon after the end of the 21st Century at 10.9 billion, assuming a continuing decrease in the global average fertility rate from 2.5 births per woman during the 2015–2020 period to 1.9 in 2095–2100.”

How will all these people live? The society we adopted during the rise of agriculture and industrialization provided for humanity. It is also wrecking the planet to the extent we have entered a new geological era.

In their book The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene, authors Simon L. Lewis and Mark A. Maslin suggest coping with human-made changes in society and our environment will lead us to a new way of life. How we will work in the near future is an open question highlighted by the massive unemployment resulting from the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Longer term, things have to change.

This has implications for capitalism particularly. Owners of capital have been on a consistent pursuit of investment opportunities that serve to increase capital. Where labor is part of the business, it serves the profitability of the owners.

When I worked in transportation and logistics I knew some Pennsylvania-based capitalists who sold gasoline at truck stops and convenience stores. When a new housing development appeared, they noticed, and believed if they built a nearby convenience store it would be successful. “A lot of rooftops there,” they would say. Their analysis was not wrong. They had facilities all over the northeast United States. At issue was creating a return on investment based on assumptions about cost of gasoline, labor, environmental compliance and consumer habits. Creating jobs wasn’t the priority and whatever they paid, it was at or slightly above the market labor rates.

“Most people don’t own very much,” wrote Lewis and Maslin. “In today’s world they are required to sell their labor in order to obtain what they need to live.” This has given rise to labor unions, structured pay and benefits packages, and working conditions conducive to profitability. “The owners of resources live on the profits they extract from the labor-sellers, and reinvest some of those profits in order to further increase productivity to produce more goods and services.” It’s a simple expression of the capitalism.

I don’t know what the future holds although some form of Universal Basic Income would address how we might get along with many more people and fewer of the kind of jobs to which we have become accustomed. Yang wasn’t wrong. Whatever today’s politics are, they must adapt to a future where human needs are cared for and wealth is more equitably distributed.

How we get there is an open question.

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Living in Society

Carding Wool With Joni Ernst

Hand Carding Wool – Image Public Domain from Wikimedia Commons

Every farm kid knows you should card wool before spinning it into yarn.

Joni Ernst’s campaign has spun some yarns about Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield and it’s clear they didn’t get things straightened out beforehand.

They don’t intend on getting the story right. They cast aspersions on their opponent’s character with disregard for facts and reasonable discourse.

On Monday, Aug. 24, Ernst released this statement on her campaign website:

“The American Dream is to own a home, which is why it’s so sad that while she was the President of Rottlund Homes, real estate executive Theresa Greenfield’s company was sued in Polk County for fraud, negligence and reneging on property purchase agreements,” said Joni Ernst spokesperson Melissa Deatsch. “For Greenfield, it’s always about looking out for herself. Once Rottlund Homes went bankrupt, Greenfield quickly jumped to Colby Interests and continued to put herself before others.”

Deatsch is saying: 1. Greenfield “quickly jumped” from Rottlund Homes to Colby Interests, and 2. she is implicitly guilty because Rottlund Homes was sued.

That’s a lot to swallow. Let straighten this the way we would card wool.

Let’s start with the LinkedIn profile Ernst wrote they accessed May 14, 2019. Here is the relevant part:

Greenfield LinkedIn Screen Print Aug. 26, 2020

Greenfield wrote she was unemployed from December 2011 until March 2012. She has been quite open about her experience with Rottlund Homes and how she lost her job during the real estate crash of the Great Recession. She told me earlier this year,

“From there I went into home building and eventually became the president of a small home building company in Iowa. That was fun through the recession, until it wasn’t any more fun. We sold the assets at the end of 2011. I became unemployed like a lot of people in the recession, then hired on with a commercial real estate company.”

For Deatsch to say Greenfield “quickly jumped” from job to job simply isn’t true. It was a recession caused in part by turbulence in the real estate business for Pete’s sake. With 100,000 Iowans out of work during the coronavirus pandemic Ernst is criticizing Greenfield for being laid off almost ten years ago? Now that Ernst is a U.S. Senator what is she doing for Iowans who are unemployed? That’s not a rhetorical question.

Let’s talk about the three lawsuits Ernst raised. It is part of business life that companies get sued. How responsible was Greenfield for these lawsuits? Ernst mentions people sued Rottlund Homes but says little else. The plaintiff is not always right and regular people know that. If you look at what happened, much of the basis for the lawsuits was out of Greenfield’s control and all three were resolved through legal process. What’s the beef?

James and Sheryl Moon: A deal between the Moons and Rottlund occurred in 2005, before Greenfield joined Rottlund Homes of Iowa in 2007. The Moons dismissed their case against Rottlund with prejudice and both parties waived claims for attorney fees.

The Villas at Berkshire Hills: The Villas at Berkshire Hills were built in the 1990s, well before Theresa Greenfield joined Rottlund Homes of Iowa in 2007. The Villas at Berkshire Hills Home Owners Association and Rottlund Homes of Iowa settled and the case was dismissed.

The Reserve Homeowners Association: The Reserve was built around 2005, and the neighborhood started to experience water pooling problems in 2006. Both occurred before Greenfield joined Rottlund Homes of Iowa in 2007. The Reserve Home Owners Association trial against Rottlund was cancelled because Rottlund was put into receivership in Minnesota to liquidate their assets and all pending litigation was stayed. The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice after both parties agreed to dismiss the case.

Did Theresa Greenfield become president of Rottlund Homes of Iowa? Yes, she did, in 2007. Were there lawsuits? Yes, there were. Are those lawsuits long resolved? Yes, they are. How about we quit changing the subject by casting aspersions on Theresa Greenfield’s character and do something for the thousands of Iowans who are jobless because of the coronavirus pandemic?

While Joni Ernst claims to be fighting for Iowans, Monday’s attack shows how out-of-touch she is during the current and greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. The Ernst campaign is criticizing and casting aspersions on Theresa Greenfield’s character at a time when: over 100,000 Iowans are unemployed, Iowa had record unemployment of over 10 percent in April, the GOP-led Senate, where Ernst as part of leadership, failed to renew needed extended unemployment benefits, and earlier this year, Ernst sought lower unemployment payments in COVID relief.

A person can spin from the lock but who would want to wear the garment, all lumpy and itchy? While Joni Ernst remains a Senator she should quit distracting, get to work for Iowans, and quit trying to persuade us her lockspun is cashmere.

Iowans are just going to shake it off.